Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Board Work Sessions on Budget and on BEX V Implementation Planning

 Update: here's a video of the Superintendent "explaining" the shortfall situation.  It's nothing new; I think most parents understand by now that 1)there are new K-12 dollars but also 2) the Legislature also took away the level of dollars accessible in local levies.  More to come in a new thread from my attendance at the Work Session on the Budget.

end of update

There are two Board Work Sessions scheduled for Wednesday, the 6th, at Garfield High School.  The Budget Work Session starts at 4:30 pm while the BEX V Implementation Planning Work Session starts at 6:00 pm.  Agenda 
I'm a bit puzzled as there is no documentation on what will be discussed at the Budget Work Session while the BEX V Work Session documentation seems quite long for an hour and a half meeting.  Almost as if staff didn't want any questions from the Board.

To note from the BEX V portion:
  • Staff has a timeline that is a bit hard to understand.  It has completion dates but no real starting dates. 
  • There's project for Coe Elementary which was on neither BEX IV nor BEX V and it's funded with State Distressed School Funds.  That's great but they need to go to the end of the line.  
  • Rainier Beach is being done in three phases and won't be done until 2025.  What?!
  • Also, the worst condition schools like Northgate Elementary, John Rogers and Alki are waiting longer than other better condition schools. 
I'll be attending this one.

Update: the Budget Work Session documentation is now available.  Highlights:
- page 8 details cuts.  Most of it would be - yes - at the school level via the WSS.  Page 8 had 16.5M but a consensus was reached in January to cut it down to $12.2M.
- page 13 then says:

Restoration Plan Recommendation

1. Fully restore WSS - $12.2m

2. Restore 50% of:
• Fall Enrollment
• Central Admin funding

3. Prorate the remaining: • Fall Enrollment
• Central Admin funding
• Curriculum

• 24 credits

Note: Central Admin and Fall Enrollment are recommended to be first, as these impact staffing positions. 
Okay, are they really saying Central Admin cuts first and then fully restore WSS? 

Pages 22- 24 have school by school info but it's not easy to read (even when enlarged).  For elementaries, Lowell, Thurgood Marshall, and Viewridge are losing at least 3-4 teachers.  For middle schools, Mercer will lose 4 while McClure and JAMS will lose at least 2.  For K-8s, if I'm reading it right, Blaine will lose 10.  

For high schools, Ballard 10, Garfield 12, Franklin 6, Roosevelt 13.

Page 17 has a list of cuts/costs.  Cut the IB funds but:

do not restore, unless there is need.   
Of course, it's needed.  The programs cannot run on fumes.  How is RBHS going to attract students without a fully-funded program?

From reader Robert Cruickshank (and I endorse this - the school-level cuts MUST be reversed first should money come in.  Also, ANY canndidate for the Board, incumbent or not, should endorse number four.)

These cuts can and must be averted. We cannot treat them as inevitable or irreversible. To do so would do a huge disservice to our kids and would be a hugely inequitable outcome.

Here is how we reverse the cuts.

1. Get the legislature to give SPS local levy flexibility.
2. Get the legislature to pass a capital gains tax with more funding for public schools.
3. Get the legislature to pass more funding for special education.

The legislature is very close to doing all three, but more parent calls and emails are needed. Do not believe anyone who says the legislature won't do these things. I was there last week and can confirm we are close on all three.

Then we need one more thing:

4. Get SPS leaders, including the superintendent and all seven board directors, to commit to fully restoring all cuts to the classroom, including to teachers, once SPS gets enough money from the state. They may have to send out layoff notices, but those can be rescinded and/or teachers and librarians and other workers rehired as new funds come available.

Four board director positions are up for election this fall. No board member who refuses to commit to fulfilling item #4 should be returned to office 


Lake City said...

Where will they put Northgate and John Rogers students while they work on the schools? Maybe that's part of the delay. Those two schools are fairly close to each other.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I can't speak for John Rogers but they will build on-site and move the school up to the upper playfield in portables. So it's no issue for them.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Many of us are working extremely hard to get more funding from the legislature for SPS and other schools. We need district leaders, including board members, to commit fully and publicly to restoring all cuts if they get the resources to do so. This idea that they might not restore IB funds even if they get the money is absurd and unfair, and it undermines our efforts to secure more funding.

I repeatedly hear legislators complain that SPS is not well managed. I cannot disagree with them. So we find ourselves, in the words of one legislator, "having to give SPS more money even though we know they're not good managers." That is precisely the place we are in. I am hopeful that our still-new superintendent will at some point make it a priority to clean up the mismanagement. I am not sure she is aware of how incredibly damaging the ongoing mismanagement is for SPS's cause in Olympia/

I would also note that several board director positions are up for re-election, and if the district does not restore cuts even if they have the funds to do so, this will reflect extremely poorly on any director seeking a second term in office.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Robert, for advocating on our kids' behalf. I think that's the central message here: SPS does not "own" these dollars. Our kids "own" these dollars. SPS has to be held accountable for public transparency in budget and finance. Tradeoffs are inevitable. Be transparent about why you are making the tradeoffs/cuts you propose and what the evidence and rationales are for your decisions. I cannot believe SPS can say with a straight face that they will restore central office cuts BEFORE the classroom. If that's really the party line, show me why that makes sense for students.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at the budget document and enrollment projections next year for high schools. I am wondering if the results of open enrollment were factored into this forecast? Likely not I am guessing. They are forcasting IMO too far too few students at Roosevelt, Ballard & maybe also Ingraham for next year unless they plan to cap enrollment. In addition to neighborhood students remaining at the school they had started due to multiple addresses and not moving to Lincoln, HC kids have in recent years been split in extremely high numbers between the other north end schools. They seem to be factoring that all the 9th grade HC eligible kids (as well as all the neighborhood kids) will attend Lincoln. IMO, HC kids who live in the Ballard, Roosevelt or Ingraham reference area may instead choose their neighborhood schools (Ballard, Ingraham & Roosevelt) in large numbers next year. Or is enrollment talking to the budget office in a timely manner and will they revise projections?


Karen said...

On page 4 of the budget presentation, it says in July of 2019, they will adopt the 2018-2019 budget. Oh boy. I say they need to completely fund schools from the bottom up. If there's any money left over, they can fund central admin. I have yet to encounter anyone who works downtown that is worth 3-5x what the teachers and people working in the schools earn.

Watching said...

What is the total cost of IB? The district wants to cut $400,000. They might not want to restore funding. What is going on? Are there plans to eliminate IB?

kellie said...

The enrollment projections being used to support these cuts lacks any semblance of transparency.

Because of the severity of the budget shortfall, it is critical that enrollment projections are as accurate as possible. It looks like these projections are ultra conservative. Enrollment drives revenue. As the enrollment projections are extra conservative, that means that revenue projections are conservative.

The consequence is a double whammy. The proposed cuts may be extra deep because cuts are being made for both the lost revenue and the lost students. If either some revenue is restored or enrollment remains stable, then SPS could easily be in a position where they desperately need to rehire the teacher they just RIF'ed.

Anyone familiar with teaching hiring will know how impossible that will be. SPS already struggles to hire enough teachers every year, for natural turnover. If SPS RIFs 100 teachers and then needs to be rehired 100 teachers, the damage to teaching and learning communities will be extensive.

This is even more dramatic at high school. High School teachers are all specialized and not interchangeable. SPS already has an incredibly hard time finding enough foreign language, math and science teachers every year for high school.

It is highly improbable that all high schools will be experiencing a significant enrollment drop next year.

kellie said...

In the budget presentation, they are projecting that high school enrollment is going to decline by over 1600 students next year.

That projection just does not pass the sniff test. The current 8th grade class is significantly larger than the graduating 12th grade class. That would normally indicate enrollment growth at high school.

Lincoln is scheduled to open next year because of enrollment growth. Downtown had pushed heavily for a Memorial Stadium high school to manage additional expected growth.

And now ... the budget cuts are being made as if an entire comprehensive high school was going to vanish next year. There is something seriously wrong with these numbers and I hope the board asks for transparency and substantiation for these numbers, before they agree to remove teachers from their positions.

Anonymous said...

Like Kellie, I really wonder about the enrollment projections.

The 2019-20 projection is that Madison Middle School's enrollment is going to decrease by 12 students. The 8th grade at Madison as 313 students, and 6th grade has 344. So the expectation must be that the incoming class has only 300 students or so (or there is significant attrition in the two other grades.)

I just added up the 5th grade classes for the feeder schools to Madison. They add up to 396 kids. But that's not all! HCC qualified kids who went to their neighborhood school in the SW region might decide to go to Madison for middle school instead of Denny. I don't know the numbers on that, but I would think that would be at least a dozen kids. For these numbers to make any sense, SPS is counting on a whole lot of West Seattle kids making other choices for Middle School. Is the capture rate between elementary and middle school in West Seattle only 75%? It seems very fishy to me.


Anonymous said...

Kellie--I think you are misreading the chart. I think the decrease of 1600 is the total for the entire school district. The decrease in comprehensive high school enrollment looks to be about 479 (which still seems crazy to me). The alternative high school decrease is about 98. They certainly made this difficult to read, so I am adding up the numbers by hand.


kellie said...

Thanks WSParent. It really does take a village to read these presentations.

So ... SPS is projecting a total enrollment decrease of over 1600 students for next year. To the best of my recollection, that would be the single largest one year change in total enrollment in at least the last 30 years and potentially the history of the district. The district has never grown or shrunk by 1600 students in recent memory. So why now?

The district is also predicting large enrollment decreases at multiple schools, that have never had enrollment decreases of that size.

Even the enrollment "shifts" make no sense. The projected new enrollment at Lincoln (+556) is SMALLER than expected decreases at Garfield (-294), Ballard (-256) and Roosevelt (-321). In theory, opening a new high school, should cause an enrollment increase, not a total decrease of more than 300 students.

Essentially these projections are predicting a mass exodus of students. Where do they think they going? Alien abduction? Are there multiple new charter schools?

I hope someone attending the work session can present the rationale.

Anonymous said...

This funding crises Robert C. states is the fault of the legislature should be laid squarely at the feet of SPS and SEA:

From the Seattle Times, dated Sept. 6, 20: "Phyllis Campano, president of the Seattle Education Association, said on Wednesday that if the union and district can’t lobby the Legislature for more flexibility on the levy swap, there could be layoffs at the end of the school year...When Campano was asked why the teams would approve a 10.5 percent raise if it could trigger layoffs, she responded: 'We think we can work hard enough to not let that happen.'"

Manufactured Crisis

Former WPD said...

Manufactured crisis is correct. Enjoy your $77M budget shortfall.

Washington Paramount Duty will lead you down a path to financial ruin.

Anonymous said...

It is ridiculous that projections seem that off. That said, enrollment seems to have been dropping and while there's a very vocal part of the population pushing for certain changes, there also appears to be another part of the population starting to vote with their feet. Maybe it will accelerate? From the stories, how many kids in HCC would go back to WMS? People seem to be voting against Garfield for some reasons. Charter school enrollment is growing. Maybe they are projecting significantly more people leaving for charter schools or other options, especially as class sizes get bigger, options are restricted, etc.

The frustrating thing to me as a parent is that these issues and cuts were 100% predictable. We KNEW about them last summer when all of the districts were negotiating contracts. There was NEVER money for the compensation increases most (all?) districts in the state gave to their teachers (and many other district employees). Even with an increase in the levy we're predicting shortfalls. That means we are paying out too much money vs what we have. In the end, the kids are the ones who lose.

When are this year's contract negotiations going to start? Are we going to dig ourselves deeper into a hole?

This again

Anonymous said...

Maybe some of the projected missing high school students are those who will end up in Running Start full-or part-time due to SPS budget and staffing cuts that will make it hard for them to get the classes they need?

That still seems like a big decrease, but if the cuts are so severe, students may be "forced" into other options. But if SPS were in fact making such dire predictions about the ability to provided needed classes, surely they'd be transparent about it, right? I doubt this is what's behind the projection gap, but it sure would be nice for them to share just what they ARE thinking. Or is this just an effort to be overly cautious and officially predict more losses than they unofficially predict?


Anonymous said...

"Even the enrollment "shifts" make no sense. The projected new enrollment at Lincoln (+556) is SMALLER than expected decreases at Garfield (-294), Ballard (-256) and Roosevelt (-321). In theory, opening a new high school, should cause an enrollment increase, not a total decrease of more than 300 students. Essentially these projections are predicting a mass exodus of students.'

Kellie I agree, makes no sense without an explanation. Is the enrollment office who should have an idea as it is after open enrollment also talking with the budget office to fine tune projections?


Anonymous said...

Another problem with the enrollment projections:

Per the SPS website "FAQ" page regarding next year's enrollment, the district projects that there will be 700 fewer students next year in SPS. Per the budget materials given to the board, there will be 1626 fewer students next year in SPS.

The difference in those projections is 926 students. I have no idea how much the state gives Seattle per kid, but if it is $6k per student, the difference is over $5.5 million that Seattle will be getting in state funding that isn't accounted for. $5.5 millions is about half of what the district wants to cut to the WSS basic budget (they are talking about cutting about $12 million).

There is no question there is something very wrong happening. I wonder if the enrollment projections folks got a memo stating that they have over-projected enrollment for too many years, and they need to be really conservative going forward. Then, they dramatically over corrected. Someone gave a different number to FAQ website people than they gave to the Board. What gives? Regardless, someone needs to get some real numbers pronto before unbelievable damage is done at the school level.


Anonymous said...

This is the time that people need to pick up the phone or send an email to the school board and superintendent and ask for transparency in the budget. What is the explanation for the numbers we are seeing? What are the rationales (and evidence supporting those rationales) for the tradeoffs these budget numbers represent? The lack of transparency generates lack of trust.

This is a huge problem for SPS and, ultimately, for the families and students the district exists to serve. Personally, I found Juneau's video rant on the budget to be 100 percent unhelpful. She focused solely on the state and explained NOTHING about the district's decisions around how and where to cut.

It should not be the responsibility of individual parents to try to decipher the "why" behind a massive budget proposal--or to decipher opaque enrollment projections. It is the responsibility of the district and school board to communicate WHY they are making decisions they are making and on WHAT evidence/data they are making those decisions.

Transparency NOW.

Concerned parent

Anonymous said...

SPS is projecting that its enrollment in 2019-20 will be equivalent to its enrollment in 2013. (Next year projected enrollment: 51,258; 2013 enrollment: 51,010.) SPS's enrollment has increased for at least the last 10 years, except for the minor decrease in enrollment last year. How can anyone possibly think that SPS will lose 6 years of enrollment gains in one year?


Anonymous said...

In theory, opening a new high school, should cause an enrollment increase, not a total decrease of more than 300 students. Essentially these projections are predicting a mass exodus of students.

If Lincoln were a replacement for an existing HS, where staff and students moved en masse to the new building, perhaps enrollment would be more predictable. But it's not. Too many unknowns.


Wildcat said...

Someone posted above that the 2009 budget was roughly $500M and now it's $900M. That's an 80% increase. We certainly haven't seen enrollment almost double so where is that $400M going? It DEFINITELY is not going to the schools. My kid's school (Whitman) is practically falling down, the history classroom hasn't changed or been updated since the 1990's. The technology is virtually non-existent. Class sizes are huge across SPS. Course offerings and teachers are being cut. If those numbers are accurate, SPS's lack of money is not the state's fault. Where did that money go? I don't see anything that was cut due to the 2008-2009 financial crisis restored, but the budget has swelled this much?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I attended the Work Sessions and I'll have an update.

While some questions were asked and were answered, I still have to wonder about those answers.

kellie said...

@ unpredictable,

The "theory" of opening new schools and the increase in total enrollment is pretty straightforward and used by school districts all across the county. When schools get overcrowded, enrollment gets saturated, as people make other choices to avoid extremely over crowded schools. There is then a pop in total enrollment when the new school opens and the overcrowding has been managed.

Now the EXECUTION of opening a new building can vary wildly. When JAMS opened there was a huge uptick in total enrollment. When Meany and Whitman opened, there was not much of an increase and that can easily be attributed to the gross mismanagement and broken promises by the district.

Effectively, these high school projections can be interpreted two ways.

1) There is some active manipulation and nobody really has any expectation that the enrollment could ever be this low
2) Something went horribly, horribly wrong during open enrollment and these numbers are an admission of a mass exodus of high school students.

kellie said...

There is another huge problem in this presentation.

There are several schools, with long historic wait lists, that are projected to take huge enrollment hits.

Ballard (-256)
Franklin (-134)
Garfield (-294)
Roosevelt (-321)

The proposed plan would ONLY restore 50% of any September adjustment for staffing. In other words, enrollment has requested draconian staffing cuts at these four schools. In the event that enrollment is completely and totally wrong and there are more students than expected in September, then the budget office will only restore staffing at 50% of the enrollment.

That is just plain wrong. Notably, all four of these schools have pretty large Running Start populations. Running Start enrollment has increased significantly at Ballard and Roosevelt at the same time that overall enrollment has increased. One would reasonably expect that Running Start enrollment would decline to closer to the historic averages when Lincoln opened. However, this process will drastically limit the ability for many seniors to get courses other than graduation requirements and push more students into RS.

There are a few elementary schools in this same position, with unprecedented enrollment drops. I hope the board really pushed back on this one because revenue is supposed to follow students.

kellie said...

One final thought about these projections.

If there is anything even remotely accurate about these projections, one should reasonably expect a round of school closures in the near future.

It is time for enrollment planning to just admit that their strategy of ignoring the Student Assignment Plan, splitting siblings and refusal to move wait lists at schools with space has not created the "staffing stability' they intended and instead is now directly causing teacher RIFs and decreased revenue for the district and weakened trust with families.

Anonymous said...

Sure would be interesting to see a more detailed breakdown of Running Start numbers - how many from each HS, FT vs PT, % identified as HC, % starting in 11th vs 12th, trends by year, etc.

reluctantly RS

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, these numbers could end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of driving more kids to Running Start. As the parent of a rising 11th grader who's on the fence about RS, the possibility that there could be a 10% cut in teachers at his high school next year makes me think we should encourage him toward RS. Who knows how many of the classes he wants/needs will end up being available, or what sort of chaos will be unfolding for the first months of school with these cuts and attempted rehires, teacher shortages, etc.

I feel terrible for the teachers and kids in this situation, and as always, I'm incensed at the incompetence and malpractice of many players in the central admin who are highly paid, but botch the planning and execution of budgets/projections/school assignments etc. year after year.

-Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

Legislators don't think SPS is well-managed. Businesses feel the same way about our city government. The ideological beliefs underpinning some of these city and district management decisions has created an unacceptable quality of life and educational environment.

Exit Poll

Robert C's said: 'I repeatedly hear legislators complain that SPS is not well managed. I cannot disagree with them. So we find ourselves, in the words of one legislator, "having to give SPS more money even though we know they're not good managers."'

Bellevue City Councilmember Jared Nieuwenhuis discussing why Amazon is moving some jobs from Seattle to Bellevue: “It starts with a city that’s very well run. I think we’re a global hub for technology and innovation,” he said. “Additionally, as a city and a city council we’re business friendly. That might be a little bit different than what Amazon is used to.”

"While there is a mix of Democrats and Republicans on the Bellevue City Council, Nieuwenhuis says they don’t lead with ideology. Instead, they focus on what’s best for Bellevue."

Weyerhaeuser CAO Denise Merle: 'Weyerhaeuser employees have walked over needles, trash and human waste and endured frightening encounters with “aggressive individuals,” after which Merle said one employee even had to seek medical attention.'




Anonymous said...

I work at a job that requires me to work at 3 locations,

1. Bellevue
2. South Seattle
2. Everett

I carpool to Everett.

I take the bus from Northgate TC to
Bellevue without issues. I walk to my place of business without issues.

I take the D bus to the 124 bus when working in south
Seattle. I'm harassed on the bus and in the city. The street people overwhelm the system there is trash all across SODO. This city is disgusting and not well run. It fits the Seattle narrative that SPS matches the city.

Why would anyone give more money to SPS?


Anonymous said...

Seattle Public Schools IMO is too big and too diverse to be well run as one district. It is the largest in the state. Districts like Bellevue etc are much smaller and less diverse. They need to focus their strategic plan on working to serve all the students they actually have in best way possible. They need to be more inclusive of all kids. They tend to make across the board decisions with consequence that affect many different populations sometimes very negatively. They want to move forward with these decisions but always end up impacting somebody very negatively because of the diversity in population and programming they affect.

They need to be broken into smaller districts and IMO scale back and focus more narrowing on their programming. No need for the large infrastructure with all the directors, keep it more simple like smaller districts.

There is also some animus between schools despite the fact the district allocates far more resources to lower income schools. Even though lower income schools are supposed to be their focus. Breaking the district up into smaller districts would enable administrators to actually focus on their populations and perhaps garner more Title I and other federal dollars as well.

A Parent

Anonymous said...

I commute from North Seattle to Georgetown everyday taking the 41 and the 131/132. Never been harassed on either bus. Lots of everyday working class people ride the 131/132 as well as some very low income people. I have never had an issue. Even at 3rd and Seneca where I transfer buses, no issues.

Fed Up, is it the D line, the 124 or your transfer point that you have issues with?


Anonymous said...

A Parent,

If the district were split into several smaller less diverse districts, would your child(ren) be in a low poverty or high poverty district?

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the notion that Seattle Public Schools is too large a district to be run effectively. SPS barely breaks into the list of the largest 100 districts in the entire nation.


Anonymous said...

@Fairmount Parent The smaller districts would likely qualify for much more federal as well as grant funding, according to a legislative policy expert I spoke to in Olympia who pointed out this issue with Seattle. It would be much better for all so I am told.

A Parent

Anonymous said...

We also have unique problems with our tax structure in WA state that also need to be taken into account as it impacts our educational funding.

A Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

A Parent, the issue of breaking up the district has been brought up many times. But how to break it up? In two would be disastrous with north/south issues. And, you seem to forget that every district has a superintendent and a board; that would not change and, to the state, is a cost.

Anonymous said...

I had also heard there was even a bill introduced by policy experts in recent years to limit district size in WA state, perhaps due to people believing size is impacting the ability of big districts to function well in WA state. I have no doubt there are large districts that function better than Seattle, but they must also be analyzed within the context of their own states etc. WA state has some big tax issues IMO. I agree that how to break it up best to maximize funding and resources would need to be analyzed by experts. However, it also does seem that Seattle Public Schools has been having lots of problems functioning well for a very long time. I was told (by a legislative policy person) they created this district to be much larger than neighboring districts in the 1970's and it has led to many problems that never seem to resolve. It is also a person who has many years behind them in educational policy. That is one person's opinion. I am open to other multiple viewpoints on this issue, but what they told me made some sense within the context of what we were discussing. I had seen some issues firsthand with very poor schools in Seattle not qualifying for federal grant funds, because the overall wealth of SPS excluded them, while a neighboring small poor district received all the funding.

A Parent

Simon said...

I agree that the size of the district is starting to be a problem, but I see it less as a reason to divvy the city up into smaller districts but as a reason to stop pretending we are a small, surburban-sized district and start acting like we are well on our way to a large urban district like San Francisco, LA, Boston, etc. The longer we drag our feet in denial of this transition, the worse it will get for everyone. We need large-scale big-city decisions about operations that no one seems prepared to make just yet. Large urban school districts have to make scalability central to operations, and large districts have to shift away from neighborhood schools offering everything to magnet schools offering specialization and unique (otherwise charters will do this for us first, to the great detriment on the district).

Anonymous said...

Simon I would argue some of what you are stating can be applied to the city of Seattle as well. IMO the city behaves at times like a smaller town instead of a big city, and it is having big growing pains. Regarding magnet schools you also need to look at transportation. In this city we are stuck in traffic and there are parts of the city that won't get light rail for many years. Moving to neighborhood schools has been positive when you consider the negative effect of students being on a bus for hours each day.

A Parent

Anonymous said...

You didn’t answer my question. Is the poverty rate in your region higher or lower than the district’s overall rate?

Fairmount Parent

Another View said...

Now that we have levy equalization, I am open to discussions to break-up the district.

At one point, SPS had 100,000 students.